After my ode to the fully loaded Albergue, guess what happened? I check into a nice new Albergue in Portomarin, and I end up being the only guest!
I conversed with the owner for quite awhile, and realized how little Spanish I know. I think she said she and her husband, who was a contractor, built the Albergue last year, and then he died. It was beautifully new and clean with a full kitchen. As I sat in the common room to read, an elderly couple came in and asked me a lot of things in rapid fire Spanish. I think they were the owners’ parents. They came by to “supervise” several more times. They reminded me of my own grandparent, who used to stop by and “supervise” my Mom.
I had a quiet evening by myself. Cooked an omelet, uploaded photos, and settled in for the night. It felt strange at first, but then, kind of homey.
But first , I had trouble getting the stove to turn on—all those cryptic international symbols. Mari, the owner, came down to help me and I could not understand a thing she said. It was the first time I felt tears if frustration. Then it dawned on me that the burner only went on if the pan was sitting on it. That’s what she meant! Yet another one of those European energy-saving strategies.
I took off into a rainy morning, feeling grumpy about it, but determined to walk the rest of the way to Santiago.
It became fun after a few kilometers. Rain, drizzle, sun. Pine forest, ancient oak trees.
After 8 kilometers I came to Gonzar, a busy pilgrim stop. It felt like a ski lodge on an inclement day. Wet gear slung everywhere. I sat down and started to write.
A woman I’ve seen earlier along the Camino came over and sat down. “You look like an Amazon out on the road!! Very strong!” And she made a stern face. Yes, that’s my scowly face that I make when I’m concentrating. She made me laugh.
“It’s a wet day! Let’s have an herbal Galician drnk!” So she bought two herbal liqueurs and we had a long visit. She told me all about her spiritual quest, and how the Camino has changed her outlook on life, told with much energy. She had a beautiful face, like Ingrid Bergman in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” short hair and all. She was amazed when I told her I was a priest, and we talked some more.
Then the sun came out and it was time to walk. She passed me and said, “good-bye, lovely turtle!” I haven’t seen her since. Maybe in Santiago.